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MoMA presents first U.S. museum solo installation by artist collective Slavs and Tatars
Slavs and Tatars, Long Live The Syncretics, 2012. Painted steel, 145 11/16 x 74 13/16″ (370 x 190 cm). Image courtesy of The Third Line, Dubai.

NEW YORK, NY.- For Projects 98: Slavs and Tatars, The Museum of Modern Art presents the first United States solo exhibition by Slavs and Tatars, from August 15 through December 10, 2012. Slavs and Tatars is a collective whose installations, lectures, publications, and multiples focus on relationships between Western cultures and the Eastern world. At MoMA, the group presents the new installation Beyonsense, which takes its title from a translation of zaum—the term used to describe abstract language experiments undertaken by artists and authors in the early 20th century—celebrates twists of language across cultures, histories, and geographies. The project was developed, in part, from their study of the Museum’s collection of more than 1,000 Russian avant-garde illustrated books. For MoMA, they have designed a reading room of an unconventional sort, featuring their text pieces and artist’s books, which incorporate a multitude of languages (Farsi, Russian, English, and Hebrew) and scripts (Latin, Cyrillic). Stressing an attitude of discourse and hospitality within the museum setting, Slavs and Tatars encourage visitors to linger in the space, leaf through the publications, and encounter the installation. The exhibition is organized by Gretchen L. Wagner, The Sue and Eugene Mercy, Jr., Assistant Curator, Department of Prints and Illustrated Books.

Slavs and Tatars, whose members are active in Eastern Europe, Russia, Central Asia, and the Middle East, work in a variety of formats and pin their practice to a defined geographic region of Eurasia—the vast expanse stretching, roughly, from the former Berlin Wall to the Great Wall of China. Living and traveling extensively in the region, Slavs and Tatars first collaborated in 2006 on projects that explored expansive historical and cultural narratives and the stereotypes and prejudices that cling to these topics. Islamic mysticism, the decline of Communism, the Iranian Revolution of 1979, and agricultural traditions in the Caucasus are among the diverse issues they have investigated, freely transgressing cultural registers and humorously blending academic tropes with pop vernacular. To communicate the many threads of their inquiry, they create inviting environments—combining bold graphic design elements, traditional craft objects, and sometimes food—where visitors can pause and experience their work.

Slavs and Tatars has had solo exhibitions at Secession, Vienna, Austria (2012); Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aachen, Germany (2011); and Netwerk Center for Contemporary Art, Aalst, Belgium (2009). They have been featured in group shows including Print/Out, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012); The Ungovernables, New Museum Triennial, New York (2012); I decided not to save the world, Tate Modern/Salt Beyoğlu, London (2011); Live Archive of The Generational: Younger Than Jesus, New Museum, New York (2009); Left Pop, Moscow Biennial of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2008); and Somewhere Totally Else, Design Museum, London (2005).

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